Learn To Describe Engagement Ring Settings (Part I)


Shopping for an engagement ring without learning the lingo is like shopping for a car by asking for something with four wheels and a gas pedal.  Not only will shopping be easier, but you will make a better purchase if you can explain what you want and understand the information you are being given. Here is the first in a series of helpful guides to teach you the basics of engagement ring vocabulary.  Learn this and it will make the entire process of buying an engagement ring much easier.

When it comes to an engagement ring think of your purchase as a recipe.  Different ingredients make different rings.  Once you identify what 'ingredients' you want you can start to design your own engagement ring to your exact specifications. Here are the main ingredients that go into an engagement ring:

  1. Diamond 
  2. Silhouette
  3. Head
  4. Shank
  5. Metal 

Engagement Ring Settings:  The Diamond

Selecting the perfect diamond takes a basic understanding of gemology. These sliding diamond scales on the Gemological Institute of America's website are an excellent tool to understand the 4C's of diamonds:


While, many brides often ask for a 'flawless diamond,' the gemological description of flawless is more than the eye can see, and most likely more than you really need to dedicate your budget to.  Working with an expert, like those at Bella's, and using this chart will help you find the perfect diamond for your ring.  You will also want to decide on the stone shape and carat size.  The most popular stones, and the most price friendly, are rounds, though some fancy cut diamonds may offer a visually larger size at a lower carat weight making them possibly budget friendly.  


Engagement Ring Settings: The Silhouette

There are really two different types of engagement ring silhouettes: solitaires and diamond mountings.  Each style has its benefits.  Here they are:

Solitaire - Any engagement ring settings that have only one center stone and no additional stones are solitaires.  However, not all of them are what we would consider a classic solitaire with a simple band and a traditional ring setting.  Some solitaires can have decorative elements, such as hand engraving, two tone details, or ornate embellishments.  Solitaires allow you to focus your engagement ring shopping budget on getting an amazing stone.

classic solitaire
Classic Solitaire

vintage style engagement ring settings

Ornate Solitaire Engagement Ring Settings

Diamond Mountings - When engagement ring settings have stones, other than the center stone they are considered a diamond mounting.  These include classic diamond band engagement rings, three stone engagement rings, and halo engagement rings.  Diamond mountings can also be used for gemstones rings, such as emerald, ruby, or sapphire engagement rings.  The benefit of a diamond mounting is they can be spectacular and decorative.

classic engagement ring settings
Classic Diamond Band Engagement Ring Settings
vintage style engagement rings
Three Stone Engagement Rings
halo engagement rings
Halo Engagement Rings

Once you have identified the silhouette you want you can explore all the variations I described and find your perfect category of rings.

Engagement Ring Settings: The Head

The actual setting the main diamond sits in is called a 'head.'  Heads are most easily categorized by how they hold a stone.  The most popular settings are Prong and Bezel:

Prong Settings - Prongs are thin metal projections that hold the stone.  Typically they can range in numbers from 4 to 6 prongs on a head.  They can be simple single metal projections or ornate fishtails.  Here is an example of both a straight prong and a fishtail prong;

classic solitaire engagement ring settings

Straight 4 Prong Engagement Ring Settings


vintage style engagement rings

Fishtail Prongs Engagement Ring Settings with Hand Engraved Details

Bezel Settings - When a diamond is surrounded by a collar of metal it is called a bezel. However, if the collar goes around opposing sides of the stone it is called semi-bezel.  These types of settings are typically seen on more modern settings and are ideal for athletic engagement rings because of the protection they offer.  Here is a full bezel solitaire:

bezel engagement ring settings

Bezel Engagement Ring Settings


Engagement Ring Settings: The Shank

The band that wraps from the setting around the finger is called the 'shank.'  They can be all metal or embellished with stones.  Here are some of our most popular shanks:

Plain Shanks - These are plain metal shanks with out any ornamentation, diamonds, or other details.  Often high polished (very shinny) and clean looking they can range in width, height, taper, as well as the silhouette of the band including domed, squared, or knife edged.

classic solitaire

Plain Shank Low Domed Engagement Ring Settings

Decorative Shanks Without Diamonds - These diamonds go to show you that you don't need diamonds to be fancy!  They can have decorative elements such as sculptural reliefs, hand engraved details, or mixed metals.  

vintage engagement rings

Decorative Shank Without Diamonds, With Hand Engraved Details

Split Shanks - When the shank splits from the base of the shank into to separate bands that reach up to the setting, we call this a split shank.  They can be plain or embellished with diamonds.

split shank engagement rings

Split Shank Engagement Ring Settings

Goose Neck Shanks - When the shank broadens at the shoulders (where the shank meets the setting) and abruptly pinch in to create an almost an arrow or tear drop shape, we call this a goose neck or pinched shoulder shank.  These settings help draw the eye to the center stone.

classic solitaire

Goose Neck Engagement Ring Settings

Channel Set Shanks -  Settings with diamonds set into the metal are typically called channel set shanks.  However, there are a few settings that look like they are channel set but are really prong set.  Regardless, it's a sleek and beautiful ring setting.

rose gold engagement rings

Channel Set Engagement Ring Settings

Prong Set Shanks - When small prongs hold diamonds on the shank these are called prong set shanks.  The stones can share prongs, as in common prong styles, or have individual prongs.  

common prong engagement ring settings

Common Prong Set Engagement Ring Settings

Eternity Band Shanks - When the decorative elements of the shank wrap all the way around the finger it is considered an eternity band shank.  These rings are symbolic of the eternity of love.  Very romantic!

eternity band engagement rings

Eternity Band Engagement Ring Settings

Many engagement ring settings are a hybrid of these types of shank.  Perhaps you want a "channel set eternity band" or a "goose neck shank with a decorative hand engraved millgrain edge", regardless of what you want, learning to describe them will help you arrive at your perfect ring much faster (and much less stressful).  

Engagement Ring Settings: The Metal

When it comes to engagement ring settings, long gone are the days of the 'it' metal. Sure, 10 years ago you had to have a white gold setting.  Today, the bridal world is open to any metal you desire, especially when it comes to mixed metal rings such as pink and green gold engagement rings and white and rose gold engagement rings!  


double halo engagement rings
White Gold Engagement Ring 
From Bella's Collection of Halo Engagement Rings
yellow gold engagement ring settings
Yellow Gold Engagement Rings
rose gold engagement rings
Rose Gold Engagement Rings
From Bella's Collection of Classic Solitaire Engagement Rings
pink and green gold engagement rings
Pink and Green Gold Engagement Rings
From Bella's Collection of Jabel Carved Rings
mixed metal rings
Mixed Metal
(Pictured: Yellow and Rose Gold Diamond Cluster Engagement Ring)
From Bella's Collection of Jabel Engagement Ring Settings
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